Great Southern Railways (or GSR) is a long distance train operator in Australia operating famous trains such as The Ghan, The Overland and The Indian Pacific. In 2008 they announced that they were going to run a service that brought all of their current services together, including a trip to Brisbane, to be known as the Southern Spirit. Unfortunately, due to the 'Global Financial Crisis', this service did not run in 2009... being postponed for a year.
So, after returning from Japan, I noticed a thread on Railpage titled 'Loco hauled passenger services...' and realised they were talking about the Southern Spirit. This brought back all the feelings of anger from last year when I'd heard it was to be completely cancelled... I was excited back then since the train was to make an overnight stay in Canberra! It also made me realise how much people had forgotten (or ignored) the service altogether, as it seemed like a pipe dream.
Anyway, the service was now running, and was to make a stopover in Melbourne on a weekend... perfect timing. It turns out Saturday was to be great weather, so I chose the beach instead, but the train was to depart for Sydney on Sunday the 17th December and I was going to capture it.
Just a note, the full album of photos and videos is located here.
The consist and loco had spent the night in Dynon Yard which is a large area of freight and maintenance operations in Melbourne. I jumped on my bike on Saturday evening and could see the consist from Mooney Ponds, but couldn't get a good shot of it. I did at least confirm that the train existed and could also determine it's approach to Southern Cross Station the next morning.
I made it to North Melbourne Station at 9am on Sunday morning and then proceeded towards Southern Cross following the railway. Most of the lines running are broad gauge, but there is a single standard gauge flyover from the yards to the Southern Cross a little further south of North Melbourne station. Here I waited for the service to move in.
Whilst waiting I saw a few things I didn't expect. It turns out that the second line on the flyover is broad gauge and is used quite a lot!
At around 1010 NR85 could be seen long-end-leading (which is extremely unusual for an NR) towards the flyover from Dynon Yard. It proceeded slowly over the gradient and then down towards Southern Cross.
From here, as I was on foot, caught a suburban to Southern Cross and took a few more pics of the train.
I then jumped on the next Footscray-bound service and found a spot trackside halfway between Footscray and Middle Footscray. Of course, there just had to be a passing EMU as I was recording a video of the Spirit leaving Melbourne.
Whilst returning to Flinders Street, I saw a freight service heading south towards Southern Cross Station. The EMU I was on managed to beat it to Flinders Street and I got a few shots of it passing through the station.
Shots from Eureka Tower
Unrelated, I've also been up Eureka Tower lately and got a few shots of the return freight service.